Biedermeier kitchen/doll

I found this children’s toy in the Biedermeier section (1815-1848) in the permanent collection of the German Historical Museum in Berlin. This doll dates from around 1850 and was most likely made in Thuringia, in the German Reich. At the time, the thought immerged that toys should be considered pedagogical objects that prepare boys and girls for their future lives and roles within society and the household.

The doll measures 18.5″ x 13″ (if the skirt is closed), 23.6″ (if the skirt is open) x 13.4″. She is dressed in black clothing, a wide skirt, a corset, and a typical Biedermeier poke bonnet. Her skirt opens up into a papier-mâché tiled toy kitchen with a small wood stove in the back, filled with miniature tin cooking pots and detailed toy-kitchen paraphernalia.

This particular piece is of interest as the doll—hence the woman—holds the kitchen in her skirt. She therefore is the kitchen incarnated. The equivalent toy for boys at the time would have been an army of tin soldiers.

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